Isolation… Fear… Madness. Sounds like the ingredients for a great spooky story, huh? You’re in luck! “The Lighthouse” is a slow-burning horror that beautifully delivers the demons that truly scare us. A welcome change of pace from the typical rank and file of contemporary horror, “The Lighthouse” was an absolute pleasure to screen and review.
“The Lighthouse” is directed by Chris Crow and stars Michael Jibson (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Mark Lewis (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Game of Thrones”). The film received a BAFTA award for Best Visual Effects and was nominated for a total of five BAFTA awards, including Best Director and Best Actor.
The film tells the disturbing true story of two lighthouse keepers trapped in an isolated lighthouse. The Irish sea surrounds them and a wicked storm rages on. No help and no hope, both of their minds are pushed to the absolute limits.
Without offering any spoilers and having done research of my own on the Tragedy of Smalls Lighthouse, I can say that “The Lighthouse” does a wonderful job in creating this strange, suspenseful, and terrifying story. History and film buffs alike will be pleased with this one.
It’s so easy, when reviewing a film, to focus on performances and the look and the writing; how often do I really get to harp on tone. That makes “The Lighthouse” an extra special treat because that creeping sense of dread and the undertones of looming madness are 100% what makes this movie.
A lot of contemporary horror goes for gore and jump scares, even the more artfully created ones. Not “The Lighthouse.” “The Lighthouse” is all subtlety. The story is a simple tale of survival and the agonizingly slow spiral into madness. It’s about confronting inner demons. Some would try to market this film as a ghost story, and maybe it is; ghosts of the past and the mistakes and regrets that haunt us.
That solemn, grave tone is physically embodied in every aspect of “The Lighthouse.” The setting of that “wooden bitch” is almost a coffin, in and of itself. The set is beautiful and bleakly detailed. I love the grey, deathly pallor of the color palette. It’s not often I pause to praise designers, but “Bravo!” Telling the story in such a small, controlled space really gave the ambiance and the creeping spirits a place to fester. I’ve said before that I especially appreciate a movie that works to put my mind in the same place as that of the characters I’m watching.
You feel the loneliness and isolation and dread when you look at these sets.
The performances in “The Lighthouse” are absolutely stellar. Michael Jibson does an especially fantastic job as the tortured and unraveling Thomas. It’s a raw performance grounded deeply in reality. In a film that focuses almost completely on a single character, you need to make sure he’s damn good. Mission accomplished and very well done.
My compliments, also to Crow as a writer. “The Lighthouse” is dialogue heavy, but I welcome that when it comes with such a great script. Powerful, but not preachy.
I absolutely recommend “The Lighthouse” for just about any film audience!
“The Lighthouse” hits select theaters on July 6 and is available on Video On Demand July 10. A story like this doesn’t come around every day, so don’t miss it!
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.